Saturday, January 12, 2008

Straight Son in Gay Bar

My son, who is straight, recently started working in a gay bar, and he is very annoyed at the way everyone there just assumes he's gay. He hasn't been there long, and he's thinking of quitting. Why can't a man work in a gay bar without everyone thinking he's gay? Concerned Mama.

Actually these days many gay bars seem to have straight -- or at least straight-identified -- employees, so obviously the managers of these establishments don't always have an aversion to hiring straight people. I do have to say if a straight man finds it uncomfortable working in a gay environment -- as your son seems to -- then, frankly, he shouldn't work in a gay bar. It troubles me that you seem to think it's the fault of the customers -- you don't state this outright but it's tacit in what you say -- but the fact remains that most of the bartenders in gay bars are gay, so most people who go into the bar will assume your son is homosexual as well. If you're honest, isn't your son more likely to be concerned that his straight friends outside the bar will think he's gay once they find out where he's working? If this is a problem for him, he should move on. And if you're totally honest with yourself, isn't your chief concern not that your son may be uncomfortable but that the customers may be right? (There is nothing wrong with being gay!)

First of all, I don't know if your son is really straight (and neither do you, to be blunt) because many of the straight-identified bartenders in gay bars are working through their sexual identity issues, enjoying an open and free gay environment until they can finally get past their personal hang ups and "stand up and be counted" as gay along with everyone else. Many gay people can't understand why a straight guy, no matter how gay-friendly he may think he is, wouldn't prefer to work in a straight bar where he wouldn't have to worry about what people think of his sexuality and could meet plenty of "babes" of the opposite sex.

Your son could be genuinely hetero, I suppose, but if he really hates that everyone thinks he's gay -- a homophobic reaction in my opinion, considering it's an environment where people are not "punished" for being gay -- then he has no business working in a gay bar. It takes a very secure, very open-minded, very liberal, very special kind of straight guy to work in a gay bar, and I really don't know if there are many of them around, even today.


Anonymous said...

No offense to you personally but your reply to this question really offended me - even as a gay person myself, lol.

I'm sooooo tired of the stereotype that all gay guys think EVERY hetero guy who is comfortable with their own sexuality MUST be gay. It isn't a one-sided street. You're open with your sexuality and completely honest about it - does that make you hetero? If a hetero male is comfortable enough working in a gay bar it does NOT mean he has "sexuality issues" or however it was that you phrased your response. It doesn't mean they are "working through" anything.

I'm just tired of the gay community labeling any attractive comfortable straight male as a closeted gay. It's stuff like that that only makes it harder to become accepted among heterosexual men.

Bill Samuels said...

You're giving me a knee-jerk reaction here; not one that's well thought out, sorry.

I never said that "every hetero guy who is comfortable with his sexuality must be gay" [which actually doesn't make much sense]. What I said, since you didn't read carefully, is that if a man is very disturbed by the idea that people think he's gay, particularly when he's working in a gay bar, then maybe he isn't so comfortable with his sexuality, whatever it is, after all. Maybe he shouldn't work in a gay bar if it bothers him so much. Just commen sense as far as I'm concerned.

As for the "working through" business, jeez, do you have any idea how many "straight" bartenders I and others have met in gay bars who turn out to be attracted to men after all? Quite a few. This may not apply to all of course; I never said it did. The secure ones know it goes with the territory that some people will assume they're gay, and it doesn't disturb them in the least. Couldn't you see that that was the whole point I was driving at? I guess not.

Lastly, comparing a straight man being comfortable with his sexuality with a gay man being comfortable with his sexuality is utterly meaningless, as straight men have not had decades of oppression and often internalized homophboia to deal with. It just isn't the same -- honestly, what are you thinking?

React with your head and not your emotions. It really is okay to be gay you know! [I just get the idea that there's something else going on here with you.] If a "straight" guy turns out to be gay and accepts himself, it's something to CELEBRATE, not fear or get angry over. If any gay man can help another accept his sexuality, there's nothing wrong with it.

Best, Bill